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The Wine Advocate - Robert Parker - June 01, 2010
98 Points Roederer's 2002 Cristal is a fabulous wine! Originally released in 2009, it was re-released in March this yearùand was sold out in a very short time. The Cristal I tasted at Roederer in May 2018 was disgorged in 2010, after seven years sur lie. Its amazing richness and concentration makes it a forerunner of the 2015 and follows the 1999. Only two timesù2002 and 2015ùthe fruit from all 42 plots reserved for Cristal was used for the Cristal. I couldn't do any better blend than the one assembling all the 42 plots, says Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon, stressing that at that time only two hectares were farmed biodynamically. As a result of the conversion to biodynamic farming, Lécaillon promised himself the production of even more beautiful, vital and balanced wines, and you can feel his satisfaction whenever he speaks of the cuvées that are yet to come such as 2012 and 2015, the latter of which he calls the new 2002. Back to history: the nose of the 2002 Cristal shows a deep, ripe and elegant fruit with aromas of white chocolate, wet chalk, wild vanilla and pepper (typical for 2002) as well as terroir-driven truffle notes. Intense and very elegant in the mouth, this is a ripe, rich and concentrated yet also pure and vital Cristal with great finesse, elegance and mineral complexity. It's a sublime Champagne right now, although it's more wine than Champagne. Tasted in Reims in May 2018.
San Francisco Chronicle - Jon Bonné - December 13, 2009
Recommended "...Roederer's top Champagne remains a paradigm of the form, showcasing the blending talents of cellarmaster Jean-Baptiste Lecaillon. There's an electricity to the nose: white tea, orange, salt, moss and apple skin. It's perfectly harmonious, with fresh berry and fleshy fig flavors highlighted by ripe grapefuit and an intense mineral core. And its full depth isn't quite on display yet. An extraordinary Champagne, with a long life ahead..."
The Wine Advocate - Antonio Galloni - January 2009
96+ Points "The 2002 Cristal is a gorgeous, sculpted wine of extraordinary elegance. Graceful, well-delineated aromatics lead to ripe pears, spices, flowers, minerals and mint in this precise Champagne. ...The wine remains fresh and in need of several years of cellaring before it hits its stride."
Wine Enthusiast - Roger Voss - December 01, 2008
98 points "This is an exceptional wine, as is the vintage. The fruits--grapefruit, crisp red apple—-are balanced with a fine yeasty character. There is a great depth of flavor, the fruits going in a pure line of freshness. ...Age this wine for at least four years."
Gourmet - James Rodewald - December 2008
"The Louis Roederer Champagne house seems to be on a roll. Every one of their offerings is fantastic this year: the luxe Cristal 2002..."
The Wine Advocate - Antonio Galloni - December 2008
96+ Points "This beautifully-sculpted Champagne possesses notable clarity but with the additional depth of fruit that is characteristic of this vintage. It is a gorgeous, seductive Cristal of the highest level."
In 1876 when Tsar Alexander II requested that a special cuvée be created for his court Roederer duly obliged, creating what many regard to be the first prestige cuvée.
As the political situation in Russia was somewhat unstable, Tsar Alexander feared assassination. He ordered that Champagne bottles be made of clear glass, so that he could see the bubbles and to prevent anyone from hiding a bomb within, as could easily happen with a typical dark green bottle. Roederer commissioned a Flemish glassmaker to create clear lead crystal Champagne bottles with a flat bottom.
Originally a sweet blend, the Champagne was named “Cristal” after these distinctive clear lead crystal glass bottles.
In 1909, the House of Louis Roederer was regarded as the “Official Purveyor of Champagne to the Imperial Court of Russia” – a business coup that was later reversed following the deposition of the Tsar during the 1917 Revolution. Prohibition in the US caused additional financial difficulties during the early 20th century. However, the house survived these setbacks and today Louis Roederer remains an independent, family-owned business, managed by Roederer’s descendant, Frédéric Rouzaud.
The composition of Cristal is approximately 55% Pinot Noir and 45% Chardonnay. The grapes used in the wine come from only the finest vineyards in Grand Cru villages. Lecaillon talks about the crucial role that vineyards play in quality:
“A majority of our most recent development has been in vineyard operations. We have strict limits set for crop yields and we're using vines that are 25 years old on average. We evaluate the grapes coming from our own vineyards very critically. We try to improve the vineyards that aren't performing well and keep the ones that are at the highest level of quality.
The grapes from our own vineyards produce wines with an alcohol content that’s an average of 1% higher than those produced with purchased grapes. There’s less tart malic acid in our own grapes. Even though we strive for the highest possible acidity, it’s absolutely necessary that this is accompanied by a ripe fruitiness. We belong to the five-percent minority of Champagne's producers who do not use malolactic fermentation to reduce wine acidity. The range of aromas is accentuated by the high-acid structure, much in the same way a salad dressing brings out the aromas in the food.
“And we stopped using cloned vines - we're only using the vine offspring from our own vineyards to ensure natural diversity. In the 1950s, -60s and -70s cloning was far too simple a solution for such a complex thing." Chef de Cave Jean-Baptiste Lecaillon explained
An extraordinary year that brought together all the factors that make for a great Champagne year : constantly warm temperatures without excessive heat or sun preceded by a markedly mild winter; a reduction in rainfall (about 20%) during the growth cycle; cool nights and a cold dry north-easterly wind from August to September. These exceptionally favourable conditions
combined meant that the grapes matured perfectly and their fl avours were nicely concentrated.
Harvesting started 12 September for the Chardonnays with an average sugar concentration superior to 11% natural alcohol.
In 1876, Tsar Alexander II was already a great fan of Louis Roederer’s champagne and he asked
Louis Roederer to «go one step further» and produce, for his own personal consumption,a unique wine in quality and bottle. Louis Roederer off ered to create an exceptional white crystal bottle to house the best selection from the 7 finest vineyards of his estate.
Cristal was only produced in the “great” years when the ripeness of the Chardonnay and Pinot noir enabled a subtle, precise balance. Cristal is the region’s most prestigious Champagne.
Precise, silky, balanced, and harmonious with a powerful, rich body, great purity and an incredible ability to age.
55% Pinot noir - 45% Chardonnay - 20% of wines matured in oak casks with weekly batonnage
– No malolactic fermentation. Cristal is produced using harvests from the fi nest vineyards of Montagne de Reims, the Vallée de la Marne and the Côte des Blancs. These wines undergo an average of 5 years maturation in cellars and rest 8 months after disgorgement to perfect its
maturity. Dosage of between 8 and 10 g/l is adapted to each vintage
A cold winter and a mild late spring cued for a perfect June allowing early and fast flowering. Outstanding weather conditions prevailed and the season went on without dramatic turns. Rains in August raised concerns regarding gray rot, but finally sunshine and dry conditions throughout September resulted in an abundant crop of largely healthy fruit (11,930 kg/ha). Dehydration due to wind further aided in achieving perfect ripeness and additional concentration. This, and the cool nights, helped in retaining fresh acidity and, despite the ripeness (10.3% potential alcohol), the wines did not suffer from heaviness or a lack of life. A near-perfect vintage, which produced balanced Champagnes consistently around the region. The best show an impeccable combination of freshness, power, structure and finesse. However, some have matured aromatically quicker than expected and are already past their peak. 2002 produced an abundance of spectacular champagnes, such as Dom Pérignon (the entire range), Krug Vintage and Clos du Mesnil, Piper-Heidsieck Rare, Louis Roederer Cristal and Cristal Rosé, Ruinart Dom Ruinart and Dom Ruinart Rosé, Salon Le Mesnil and Taittinger Comtes de Champagne, to name a few.